Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in well over 20 years. I went skating. I realized some weeks ago that if this project was going to move forward, it might not be a bad idea to get my skating legs back underneath me. So into the basement I went and I found my skates in busted box. I was thankful that my cats didn’t use it to….nevermind. To my surprise the boots weren’t bad, but the blades had a fair amount of rust on them. Just as I did in days long past, it only took a visit to “Cooke’s” to get them in relative working order.
It seemed oddly fitting that on my first day back on the ice after two decades my first coach Denise Marco, who normally doesn’t teach on Saturday, was there. Not only is Denise the Executive Director of Northstar Ice Sports but she will be playing Elizabeth Rogers in Serpentine with one of her star students playing Suzanne Wilson.
I remember the days in the late 1970s when my mother would drive me to Denise’s house at 5 in the morning (we lived in the same town) to ride with her to the rink for a 6 AM skate before school. Who possibly could have thought that we would reunite in 2016 to make a movie!
What’s also fitting about the Serpentine project is the number of people from First World and Justice Is Mind that will be joining this production. While this will be a great reunion, there’s some terrific new actors and crew members that have joined Serpentine. My plan is to still formally announce the project by October 1.
As of this moment, there are just about 30 people involved in Serpentine. And this is just a short film. I remember with Justice Is Mind, when all was said and done, that number was just over 200. Producing a film is no easy feat. From scheduling to organizing to execution, it is not for the faint at heart. But what it does require is a commitment. And not a lackadaisical one.
I know of so many that want to be part of the industry but they seek instant gratification or worse fame. This industry is about hard work, consistency, sacrifice and dedication. Each project builds some sort of value for the next. It all has to start somewhere. Did I ever think that those first days on the ice decades ago and that first high school play would lead to being on a network TV show or directing films? We can’t predict the future, but we can plan the present.
As for the present, it looks like a great conference room for our last needed location has come forward. The phrase “Location. Location. Location” is often used in real estate. The same holds true in filmmaking. For me, once the locations are secured, I start to visualize the story from script to screen.
With the crew coming together and over 100 actor submissions this past week, pre-production on Serpentine is moving along. With Northstar Ice Sports confirmed along with a private residence, the last location I’m working on is a conference room that will serve as an FBI meeting. Filming dates have gone out for one of the last days in October to the first few in November. To say there are a thousand details when putting together a film is an understatement.
When Justice Is Mind formally went into pre-production in May of 2012 I had three months to organize what ultimately became securing 15 locations via trade arrangements, 100 plus actors and a crew of over 17. Thankfully every star in the universe lined up correctly and those that worked on the project went above and beyond the call of duty. But make no mistake about it, there were issues that came up. Things that needed to be dealt with on a day to day basis. There’s no such thing as a perfect world in filmmaking but resilience and innovation has always been the key.
The one thing that I always find rewarding about this process are those that come out wanting to help. For First World it was the securing of a horse farm, for Evidence it was being allowed to film in a house, for Justice Is Mind it was the LAST MINUTE securing of an MRI center, for Serpentine it was an ice rink. As a filmmaker the one thing that drives us all forward is enthusiasm. Nobody is saying you have to come to set with pom poms and break out into a cheer, but there should be the want to create and be part of something. To quote the IMDb videos, there are “No small parts”.
What I have learned over my twenty years of experience is that everything we do in this industry is cumulative. Some parts are small, some are starring roles. Some parts pay extremely well, some cover gas (maybe). But when you put them all together it’s what you call a body of work.
All my work resulted in the production of Justice Is Mind. This past week I was reminded about the many theatrical screenings we had for my “freshman” feature. When I look at the pictures of us from those screenings and recall the work and dedication of so many, it’s events like those that make the journey all the more worthwhile. Yes, making a film takes time, dedication and resources, but it’s knowing what you create will far far exceed the time to produce it in the first place.
As for time, today I looked at the past 12 weeks of minutes watched on Amazon. When my three films have been watched for over 120,000 minutes in that period it further justifies what I do as a storyteller and filmmaker. While making a film is exciting, the joy comes in those that watch it.